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The number of new banks in America has fallen off a cliff

THE single-storey main branch of the Texas Hill Country Bank, in Kerrville, sits at the back of a tired shopping centre, in the shade of a six-storey Wells Fargo building. When Roy Thompson, the chief executive, was hired (from Wells) in 2012, three years after it opened, he ran a radio ad campaign to alert locals to its existence. It ...

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Bad loans remain a concern in Italy and across southern Europe

ITALY’S next government, a coalition between the populist Five Star Movement and the far-right Northern League, is giving investors plenty to worry about. Leaked plans, hastily abandoned, suggested it might want to leave the euro or ask the European Central Bank to forgive €250bn ($292bn) of Italian debt. But less attention has been paid to what it might mean for ...

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European firms are increasingly tackling the scourge of bribery

ONE of the more extreme recent cases of corporate bribery is that of LafargeHolcim, a giant Swiss-French cement-maker which was accused in 2016 of funnelling money to armed groups controlling roads and checkpoints around a factory in Syria. The firm still cannot be sure who pocketed its payoffs, via middlemen, that were intended to keep its facility running at all ...

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Why it makes sense to invest in Treasury bonds

JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, a quotable economist, observed that one of the deeper mysteries is why, in a falling market, there is still a buyer for every seller. It is a conundrum that bond investors must now contemplate. Since January the yield on a ten-year Treasury bond has risen (and thus bond prices have fallen) with scarcely a backward step. It ...

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Dear oil helps some emerging economies and harms others

When they are not fretting about the American dollar or Chinese debt, policymakers in emerging economies keep a close eye on the oil market. The price of Brent crude has risen by nearly 50% in the past year to around $80 a barrel. It ranks as the 11th-biggest spike in the past 70 years (adjusted for inflation), according to UBS, ...

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